What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Improving Crop Yields in a World of Extreme Weather Events, University of California, Riverside

Maps reveal ‘hidden hunger’ that stifles development, SciDev.Net

Africa can follow Brazil’s lead in battle to eradicate hunger, says Lula, The Guardian

 Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security, The High Level Panel of Experts of Food Security and Nutrition

FACT SHEET: Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, The White House

Women’s Empowerment in Kenya, A Global Village

World hunger reduction: Missed goals and incomplete strategies, Policy Pennings

U.S. Approves a Label for Meat From Animals Fed a Diet Free of Gene-Modified Products, The New York Times

Europe should rethink its stance on GM crops, Nature

GM crops won’t help African farmers, The Guardian

The True Deservers of a Food Prize, The New York Times

First Ever Report on Global School Feeding Launched in US, Home Grown School Feeding

Non-GM farming in Europe ‘outperforms’ GM farming in US, Public Service Europe

Food Security Strategy Group, The Aspen Institute

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Africa leading the way, Impatient Optimists

Is it crazy to think we can eradicate poverty?, The New York Times

Guest post: to find African development, look for good governance by the sea, Financial Times

Bill Gates Joins Tony Blair in Praising Africa Economic Progress, Bloomberg

Open Data Opens Doors, Feed the Future

Food Biotechnology: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding, Food Insight

Encouraging signs of progress from Bonn climate talks, Thomson Reuters Foundation

GM crops: Promise and reality, Nature

Over half world’s population could depend on imported food by 2050, Environmental Research Web

Agriculture and Livestock Remain Major Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Worldwatch Institute

Agricultural intensification could run up high bills in the long-run, SciDev.Net

New GM crop wave may ease Frankenfood fright, Western Farm Press

The Expanding Role of Smallholder Farmers in Feeding the World, CSIS

Africa: Economists Warn of Gaps Amidst Africa’s Growth, All Africa

Sustainable intensification: what does it really mean?

Sustainable intensification, a term brought to prominence in the Royal Society’s 2009 report, Reaping the Benefits, has become a widely debated and often controversial issue. Indeed sustainable intensification was the topic of two recent conferences, the Royal Society’s Achieving food and environmental security, and Chatham House’s Food Security 2012 Conference, Sustainable intensification: miracle or mirage?

Gordon Conway, speaking at Chatham House, put forward the concept of sustainable intensification as producing more from less or in other words, greater productivity with a smaller footprint. At the Royal Society, Professor Charles Godfray of the University of Oxford discussed four key points relating to sustainable intensification:

1)    Action is needed on all fronts both the production and consumption sides;

2)    There are very limited amounts of new land and sustainable intensification is a logical deduction from this;

3)    It is not sustainable intensification i.e. it is not business as usual with marginal improvements in environmental impact.

4)    A goal is not a trajectory: sustainable intensification must be evidenced-based and context specific.

But, given the level of debate around the term, sustainable intensification clearly needs better public delineation at both theoretical and practical levels. Several key questions were asked at these conferences and we’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

[Read more…]

Incentives to Mitigate Climate Change

In a new policy brief published in August 2012, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)summarizes the outcomes from a FAO–CCAFS expert workshop on Smallholder Mitigation: Mitigation Options and Incentive Mechanisms held in Rome in July 2011. The brief deals not only with ways in which smallholders can reduce greenhouse gas emissions originating from their farms but also the incentives needed if they are to adopt such practices.

74% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions originate in low and middle income countries where much of the workforce is comprised of smallholder farmers. Yet there are few systems in place in many of these countries in which farmers can receive a direct payment for their mitigation activities. For many smallholder farmers their priorities may be to feed their family and increase their income and security rather than mitigating climate change, which mean mitigation activities, must serve multiple goals without jeopardising the farmers own needs if they are to be adopted. [Read more…]